My daughter’s musical tastes

The day before a momentous one

hamilton logoI’ve noted that my daughter’s musical tastes include 1990s soul, developed without much input from me, though I approve.

She’s been involved in a few musicals at church, so she knows The Lion King. Her parents have let her know about West Side Story and Fiddler On The Roof. She discovered Grease on her own.

Recently, she’s been playing the Studio Cast Recording to the musical Six, about the six wives of Henry VI. The first song, Ex-Wives, repeats the bromide to remember their fates: Divorced, Beheaded, Died, Divorced, Beheaded, Survived. It could be useful in a history class.

Indeed, her affection for Hamilton, long before I was aware of it, has helped her in that manner. She knows who ran in the election of 1800, e.g. Likewise her knowledge of Assassins, the interesting Sondheim musical about people who killed Presidents, or tried to, has helped. Musicals aren’t history, of course, but they can be useful.

Her father, as noted, gave her Beatles #1s when she was five. So I was amused with one of those periodical articles, this showing up in the local paper, by a guy named Michael Gorelick. His commentary was titled “Fab Four music seriously flawed” The writer says nausea overwhelms him “three seconds after hearing a Beatles song.”

I would disagree, of course, as did at least four readers of the Times Union. But he did say one thing that was true of me. I used Beatles music to babysit my child, unapologetically. Compare Adam@Home.

More of the road trip songs

I’m continuing with songs she picked out on the road trip.

Take On Me -A-ha
No Scrubs – TLC
Stand Up – Cynthia Erivo. This is from the movie Harriet, which she did not see, but her parents did.

Jugaste y Sufri – Eslabon Armado ft. Danny Lux
Lover Is A Day – Cuco
Not Allowed – TV Girl
t r a n s p a re n t s o u l – Willow Smith ft. Travis Barker

Cupid’s Chokehold/Breakfast In America – Gym Class Heroes ft. Patrick Stump. I love that Supertramp album
Redbone – Childish Gambino
Moral Of The Story – Ashe. “You can think that you’re in love when you’re really just in pain.”
Daddy Issues – The Neighbourhood. Hmmm…

Sedition, Fiddler on the Roof song

he can’t change it with a tweet

traditionLately, I’ve not slept well at all. I go to bed around 9:30 pm, wake up three hours later, stay up for an hour, and check my email.

The evening before last, I had been singing to myself “Sedition” to the tune of “Tradition”. It’s undoubtedly a function of two things, that post I wrote recently and my unabashed love for Fiddler on the Roof.  

I started jotting down notes from the emails. Suddenly, I had a few couplets, followed by a phrase that rhymes with sedition. I’ve barely edited them. Some of the rhymes are really forced. But I offer them up so that YOU might add to them, fix them, whatever.

Leave your suggestions in the comments on the blog or on Facebook. I’d be interested to see what you come up with.

The song, as it were

His faux regime refused to take the virus seriously
Engaged in partisan attacks – where is the PPE?
He hampered prevention, prevention.

The country’s finally seeing through his xenophobic lies
His anti-immigrant retorts should be something we despise
The bigot’s agnation, agnation.

His foolish quest to stay in charge is led by Sidney Powell
And Rudy Giuliani, whose hair dye is a howl
The lawyers’ deception, deception.

IMPOTUS plans to give some pardons to his family
Just like he did for Michael Flynn and Scooter Libby
The pardon provision, provision.

The Electoral College proves his constitutional defeat
Yet he keeps up denying; he can’t change it with a tweet
He stuck in delusion, delusion

Franklin Graham Says Trump ‘Will Go Down in our history
As one of the Great Presidents’ – I think he’s cra-a-zy
No state church in our nation, our nation.

He inflames radicals who hijack our society
They threaten civil servants who just want us to be free
Tyrannical sedition, sedition.

New Colossus; Fiddler on the Roof

my second-favorite musical

the new colossusI’ve seen two shows at Proctors Theatre in Schenectady in February, New Colossus and Fiddler on the Roof. I am having difficulty reviewing either, for different reasons.

The New Colossus is a play written by actor Tim Robbins and the cast from the Actors’ Gang Ensemble out of Los Angeles. As Robbins told Democracy Now, “I had 12 actors from various parts of the world, some of whom English was a second language. And I asked them to write their story, write the story of either their immigration or their parents’ or grandparents’ immigration. And we came up with this story of 12 different people, from 12 different time periods, speaking 12 different languages, telling the story of the arduous journey towards freedom — something that unites us, by the way, as a country.”

The tale as told, some with superscript as one experience at some operas, some cacophonous. A lot of literally walking in circles, which I took to represent the tedium of the process. But then the “refugees” communicate with each other, largely without words.

By the end, when each performer describes their ancestor, it is quite affecting. Then Robbins polls the audience about their immigrant journeys. Folks had their picture taken with Robbins. I told him my affection for the movie The Player. On the way home, my wife and I talked about the pacing of the production. But it was a valuable experience.


Fiddler on the Roof is my second-favorite musical, behind only West Side Story. And that’s probably only because I’d seen WSS earlier. My first exposure to Fiddler was a version of Sunrise, Sunset sung by Robert Goulet on some Columbia Records compilation from the mid-1960s. I thought it was a bit schlocky. But when I heard it in the musical this year, it may have been the most affecting song.

In this production, I felt more of the oppression of the Jewish people by the government bullies before the ultimate expulsion from Anatefka. There’s a particular physical technique in which Tevye is separated from his third daughter that was fabulous. The relatively barren stage for Tradition, using essentially two large doors, was quite effective.

The Tevye, who I believe was the understudy, was fine. Tzeitel, the eldest daughter, really sold the fear of the Matchmaker’s decision in a way I don’t always feel. I loved the physicality of the young tailor Motel in fear of his future father-in-law.

So if the bottle dance wasn’t as effective as the one I saw at Mac-Hadyn in 2014, whatever. My wife, my daughter and I enjoyed the performance.

January rambling: surreal logic

conductor and pianist Vladimir Ashkenazy

Weird Hill from xkcd

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Language… has created the word ‘loneliness’ to express the pain of being alone. And it has created the word ‘solitude’ to express the glory of being alone.
– Paul Tillich

Books, language, and librarians

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The Surreal Logic of the China Trade Deal.

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Now I Know

This Is The Poem That Never Ends. It Just Goes On And On, My Friends. and The Town With No Name and What To Do When Iguanas Fall From the Sky and How a Rock Band Helped Runaway Kids Find Their Way Home and It’s Art Because Someone Says It Is and Why Do Bakers Have Bigger Dozens? and Behold the Power of Dried Plums.


That Don – Randy Rainbow.

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Coverville 1293: The Neil Peart Tribute and Rush Cover Story III.

The Golden Spinning Wheel by Antonin Dvorak.

Tall Skinny Papa– Annie & The Hedonists [Caffè Lena Late Night Sessions]

All About Falling In Love – MonaLisa Twins

Fiddler on the Roof: Dear, Sweet Sewing Machine – Motel (Adam Kantor) and Tzeitel (Alexandra Silber) and Tradition – Tevye is Anthony Warlow, production done in Australia.

How Long Has This Been Going On – Audrey Hepburn, from Funny Face.

The Inner Light – The Beatles.

Fiddler: A Miracle of Miracles

stories by Sholem Aleichem

Fiddler: A Miracle of Miracles is a documentary about the making of the Broadway production, and the subsequent movie called… yes, you guessed it. Fiddler on the Roof is one of my Top 5 favorite musicals, so when the story about it hit the Spectrum Theatre, my wife my daughter and I had to see it.

It is really good.

The narrative contains several strands. How do you take stories by Sholem Aleichem of Tevye (the Dairyman) and his Daughters and turn them into a compelling musical narrative? “He wrote in Yiddish between 1894 and 1914 about Jewish life in a village in… Imperial Russia at the turn of the 20th century.”

Earlier iterations had been staged: a play in Yiddish in 1919 was made into a movie in the 1930s. An off-Broadway production, Tevye and his Daughters, was created in the late 1950s.
How would this time be more commercially successful?

Watching the process between Jerry Bock, who wrote the music, and lyricist Sheldon Harnick was fascinating. Jerry would send Sheldon music snippets on reel-to-reel tape, and Sheldon would say some of them fit perfectly.

I was really glad to see the late Hal Prince, who was the producer and who brought in director/choreographer Jerome Robbins. Prince’s death was so late in the filming process that the death notice was clearly tacked in early in the opening credits. Robbins and the writers came up with the musical’s title, based on paintings by Marc Chagal.

Still, it was a struggle. Zero Mostel, who played Tevye, fought with Robbins. Other cast and crew also had issues with the director. Yet Prince thought Robbins’ contributions were worth the grief.

Once the classic opening number “Tradition” was created, the narrative began to solidify. Still, the out-of-town tryouts in Detroit weren’t successful, in large part because of a too upbeat penultimate number, When Messiah Comes, that was thankfully cut.

Ultimately, Fiddler shows the universality of the musical, which plays well in Thailand and with New York City black schoolkids, in Japanese, and in Yiddish. The documentary uses interviews with participants of recent productions, plus archival footage, in telling the story. Fiddler on the Roof is certainly a story about oppression and optimism. Is it also a feminist tale? One can make that case.

The documentary, which the last time I checked had 100% ratings from both the critics and the fans on Rotten Tomatoes, is recommended.

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